Sunday, May 31, 2015

Vic Berger Pokes Fun at the Fundies

Why didn't I know about these hilarious videos until now? Here are a few of Vic Berger's parody videos starring Religious Right figures.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

News Tidbits

In Touch Weekly: Josh Duggar Sued the Arkansas Department of Human Services

Ms. Magazine: California Passes Reproductive FACT Act

Fox 2 Now: Gay conversion therapy ban clears Illinois Senate committee

Washington Blade: Iowa group nixes anti-gay pledge for presidential hopefuls

Allentown Morning Call: Bangor mother defends son who wore Chick-fil-A T-shirt during Gay-Straight Alliance event

Raw Story: Dallas megachurch put woman ‘under discipline’ for wanting to leave her pedophile husband

Al Jazeera America: Sainthood for founder of California missions angers Native American groups

Pink News: Catholic cardinal: Irish people are ‘worse than Pagans’ for passing same-sex marriage

Huffington Post: After Outcry, Clemson Football Coach Dabo Swinney Says No To 'Anti-LGBT' Group Fundraiser

Commentary Tidbits

Washington Post: Why evangelicals are having trouble finding a unified voice in Washington

Yahoo News: No, people and dinosaurs didn't roam the earth at the same time 

Philadelphia Gay News: Bringing Our Youth Home

Defeating the Dragons: American Christianity Is Broken 

New York Times: Rick Santorum on the Issues

The Guardian: Gay conversion therapy ruins lives. We cannot afford to keep it legal

News-com-au: Gay conversion therapy still thriving online despite condemnation of ex-gay ministries

Winnipeg Free Press: Stop whitewashing religious extremism for ratings

Huffington Post: 19 Hypocrisies and Counting

SheWired: 9 Reasons the Duggar Family Is BAD for Women

Raw Story: Quiverfull author delivers melodramatic defense of Duggars against ‘pagans and gullible Christians’

Funny Or Die Mocks Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

News Tidbits

Reuters: Hobby Lobby to make appearance in EEOC transgender bias case 

NPR: Santorum Hopes To Catch Lightning In A Bottle A Second Time 

Gay Star News: Mike Huckabee will ignore Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage

Colorado Independent: Evangelicals pray to end ‘transgender tyranny’ as Girl Scouts and schools welcome trans youth

Associated Press: Pence passes up presidential bid, but future still cloudy

Associated Press: Vatican: Irish gay marriage vote a 'defeat for humanity'

Charleston Daily Mail: Lawsuit claims evolution is a religion

Lincoln Journal Star: Catholic bishop tells women to abstain from yoga

KFSM 5 News Online: Senator: Springdale Police Chief Should Be Fired Over Child Sex-Crime Report 

USA Today: More advertisers bail out of Duggar show

The Advocate: Dan Savage Calls Out Duggar's 'Staggering' Family Values Hypocrisy
People Magazine: Jessa Duggar's Father-in-Law, Michael Seewald, Pens Essay in Wake of Josh Duggar Molestation Scandal: 'I'm Rooting for You'

Commentary Tidbits

Rosa Rubicondior: So You've Decided To Be An Internet Creationist

Think Progress: Rubio: If We Don’t Stop Gay Rights, Soon The Teachings Of The Catholic Church Will Be ‘Hate Speech

Jonathan Merritt: The Christian baker who refuses LGBT couples is not a persecuted preacher

Right Wing Watch: The Radical Anti-Contraception Ideology That Links The Duggars And The Anti-Choice Right

Irreverin: What About the Girls? The Duggar Scandal and the Cost of Fundamentalism

Ex-Communications: Why I Can’t Remain Silent about Josh Duggar’s Sexual Abuse Victims

MSNBC: Why did the Duggar abuse investigation end?

Permission to Live: It’s Not Just The Duggars 

Gawker: Quiverfull of Sh*t: a Guide to the Duggar's Scary Brand of Christianity 

Mic: Inside the Christian Cult That Told the Duggars to Blame Their Daughters for Their Abuse

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Josh Duggar Backs Out of Teach Them Diligently Conference

After In Touch Weekly alerted the public to the Josh Duggar sexual abuse scandal, Josh Duggar has withdrawn from public life. Duggar is no longer an employee of FRC Action, and his official website is offline, reports Time. Now, Josh Duggar's speaking engagement at Teach Them Diligently's Christian homeschooling conference has been canceled, according to E! Online. The entertainment magazine reports that Duggar is no longer scheduled to speak at the 2015 Teach Them Diligently convention, which will take place in Sandusky, Ohio from May 28-30.

In a public letter shared on Facebook, David Nunnery of Teach Them Diligently announced that Josh Duggar withdrew as a speaker at the conference. Actor and athlete T.C. Stallings will replace him on the schedule, according to the statement. "Despite the disappointment and disbelief that accompanies news like we have heard, we have come to expect that through disappointments, we will witness God working mightily!" Nunnery wrote.

I'm relieved that Duggar will not be speaking at the event. However, when I skimmed over the conference workshop schedule, I was disappointed that the topics reflected the unhealthy Christian homeschooling culture in which the Duggars live.

Some workshops covered the usual homeschool convention topics: academics, balancing marriage and homeschooling, creationism and evolution, the Great Flood as historical fact, and so forth. The Benham brothers, who lost their HGTV show due to David Benham's homophobic remarks, are scheduled to deliver a talk about how they were "fired for their Biblical values".

Other workshops gave me pause. For example, two workshops will depict families as under attack by ominous outside forces. When fundamentalists obsess over real or imagined threats from outside the family, they forget the threats that can emerge within families. Family violence (including sexual abuse) is a far more pressing danger to children than "spiritual warfare", "the Enemy" or "the World", and I wish Christian homeschoolers would take the problem seriously.
Call to Arms: The Guts & Glory of Courageous Fatherhood
Chuck Black
Perfect Praise Publications
There is a war being waged for our families. Our enemy is strong and we are in his territory, but God  has called us to arms. Chuck offers straight answers and practical help for dads who are looking to  equip and launch soldiers for Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Warfare: Fighting for your Family
Chuck Black
Perfect Praise Publications
Homeschooling doesn’t exempt families from spiritual warfare; instead it puts us on the front line. Don’t underestimate the Enemy. Trained as a military warrior, Chuck offers insight and training on how to survive the battles and advance the Kingdom.
Another workshop urged parents to teach "purity" values to their sons. With regard to the Duggar scandal, other commentators have argued that purity culture prevents young people from developing a healthy sense of sexuality, discourages open conversation about sexual issues, denigrates sexual abuse victims, and encourages silence about sexual abuse. Now more than ever, purity culture deserves close scrutiny.
Shining Armor:Your Son’s Battle for Purity
Hal and Melanie Young
Raising Real Men
Most purity resources these days focus on girls, but purity tends to be a much bigger problem for young men and many seem hopelessly naïve about the battles our sons are facing. Today’s young men grow up with challenges to their purity on every side. In a time when over 90% of teens have been exposed to Internet pornography, how can we teach our boys to keep their way pure? What can we do when temptation is lurking on friend’s phones and beckons just a click away? How can we give them a Biblical context for sexuality—from their toddler years to adulthood? Come hear the parents of six sons give you frank, practical advice on raising your son to be a virtuous knight.
The Youngs are also scheduled to deliver a workshop on how to resist the world's alleged attempts to "feminize" boys through "gender-bending". Such gender essentialism, which assumes that boys are automatically more aggressive than girls, runs the risk of normalizing male violence. To boot, where we find rigid gender roles, we find devaluation of qualities labeled "feminine"and of females in general. In the wake of the Duggar scandal, especially the erasure of Josh Duggar's female victims, these attitudes should give us all pause.
Raising Real Men: Surviving and Appreciating Boys
Hal and Melanie Young
Raising Real Men
In spite of what the culture is telling us, boys and girls are different. Have you ever had a war break out in the middle of history, or had a single math lesson take three hours? Then you’re probably raising boys! If the world seems intent on gender-bending and forcing our sons into a feminized mold, Hal and Melanie, parents of six boys, explain the Biblical way out – and a better way to turn wild little dirt-lovers into strong Christian men!
When I see workshop offerings at Teach Them Diligently, CHAP, and other Christian homeschooling conventions, my heart sinks. While the parents and presenters at these conferences have good intentions, they seem oblivious to how unhealthy their worldview is for children. When Christian communities rage at imaginary attacks on families while ignoring real ones, foster toxic attitudes toward sex, and promote rigid gender roles, they do a disservice to children. As the Duggar scandal reminds us, these attitudes do not necessarily protect children, and may actually make it more difficult to confront child abuse.

If the Christian homeschooling community wants to protect its children, it must learn from the Duggar scandal. It must question its own toxic values about sex, gender, and the outside world.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Homeschoolers Anonymous: Josh Duggar Withdraws from Teaching Them Diligently Convention

Inquisitr: Josh Duggar Cancels Speaking Engagement, But 19 Kids And Counting Could Still Go On Without Him

Monday, May 25, 2015

Commentary Tidbits

Huffington Post: 6 Of The Most Ridiculous Stunts Pastors Have Pulled To Get People To Church

LGBTQ Nation: Anti-gay bill rejection gives Jindal a campaign opportunity 

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests: Huckabee defends sex offender; SNAP responds

Washington Post: Republicans’ Josh Duggar problem

Diary of an Autodidact: How Fundamentalism's Teachings on Sexuality Create Predatory Behavior

Friendly Atheist: Ray Comfort: Josh Duggar Wasn’t Really a Christian When He Molested Those Girls 

Mary DeMuth: Dear Mike Huckabee

News Tidbits

USA Today: Pence says he has regrets about religious freedom debate

Pink News: Mormon LGBT group rejected from Utah parades

Washington Blade: Jindal faces backlash over religious freedom order

New York Times: Catholic Church Ponders Future After Same-Sex Marriage Vote in Ireland

Gay Star News: Campaigners in only Irish constituency to vote against same-sex marriage blame local politicians  

Washington Post: After court-martial, this Marine cites religious freedom in her continued legal fight

The Independent: Purity balls: Girls in the US making virginity pledges as fathers vow to 'protect purity'

Time: Josh and Anna Duggar Shut Down Website Amid Molestation Reports

E! Online: Josh Duggar Cancels Appearance at Christian Home-School Convention in Sandusky, OH

Raw Story: Montel Williams blasts Josh Duggar, Tony Perkins as ‘hypocrites, charlatans’ in epic Facebook rant

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ireland Votes in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage

Ireland's referendum on same-sex marriage ended with a victory for LGBTQ rights. According to the Irish Times, 62% of voters voted in favor of a constitutional amendment permitting same-sex marriage. A total of 1,935,907 persons voted in the referendum, an impressive turnout of 60%. The victory makes Ireland the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.

The referendum results serve as a reminder that the Catholic Church no longer has a stranglehold on Irish morality. In spite of loud opposition to same-sex marriage from Ireland's Religious Right and Catholic Church, the Irish people still voted in favor of LGBTQ equality.

Even some members of the Catholic clergy supported the referendum, suggesting dissension within the Irish Catholic Church itself on the issue of LGBTQ rights. For example, Pádraig Standún, a Carna priest, penned a commentary piece for the Connaught Telegraph in which he announced that he would vote 'yes' on the referendum. Iggy O’Donovan, a Limerick priest and member of the Augustinian order, also revealed that he would be voting 'yes' in a commentary piece at the Irish Times.

One Irish Catholic leader recognizes that Irish society is changing, but refuses to admit that the Catholic Church must adapt in meaningful ways. During an interview with RTÉ News, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin admitted that the vote was part of a "social revolution" in Ireland. Martin argued that the Catholic Church must do a "reality check" with regard to Irish culture, especially regarding the attitudes of young people.
"I think the Church needs to do a reality check right across the board, to look at the things it is doing well, to look at the areas where we really have to start and say, have we drifted away completely from young people? ... We have to stop and have a reality check and not move into a denial of the realities. We won't begin again with a sense of renewal by simply denial."
Martin understood that many of the 'yes' votes came from young people who had been educated in Catholic schools, suggesting that the church has failed to engage with younger generations.
"Most of those young people who voted 'yes' are products of our Catholic schools for twelve years ... There's a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church. There are huge things going on in the Catholic Church in this country of which we can be immensely proud. That's happening here today. But I do thing we need a real reality check, to sit down and say, 'Are we reaching out at all to young people?'"
Martin was quick to remind the interviewer that the Catholic Church will not renounce its ban on same-sex marriage. Instead, the church needs new language and new outreach efforts, he argued.
"We're becoming a church of the like-minded, and a sort of a safe space for the like-minded rather than the church which Pope Francis is talking about as reaching out. Now that doesn't mean we renounce our teaching on the fundamental values of marriage and the family. Nor does it mean that we dig into the trenches. We need to find, as in so many areas, a new language which is fundamentally ours, but speaks to, is understood, and becomes appreciated by others."
When the interviewer reminded Martin of the moral importance of equality, the archbishop engaged in doublespeak, unfortunately. Martin strongly opposed "changing the definition of marriage" but insisted that he empathized with the suffering of Ireland's gays and lesbians. The idea that being denied equal rights could be part of that suffering never occurred to him.
INTERVIEWER: But doesn't the fundamental value of marriage and the family need to be leavened by perhaps a greater overarching value, the value of having an open hearth, a welcome to national family for everybody, and perhaps that ought to have trumped the old-fashioned teaching?

MARTIN: I constantly, in anything I said, tried as much as I could to be respectful to the, first of all, the suffering of gay men and women in this country. And I think that if they're rejoicing this evening, much of that is rejoicing because they're moving out from that. But on the other hand, I have the strong belief--there's a strong belief in the church about the nature of marriage and the family. I would have liked to have seen that the rights of gay and lesbian men and women could have been respected without changing the definition of marriage. That hasn't happened, but that's the world we live in today, and that's the world we, as a church, we will begin to try and find ways in which the Christian message can be got across not just on this question, but on all the other inequalities that exist  in society."
Martin's interview reflects the dilemma in which the Catholic Church finds itself. On one hand, church leaders clearly understand that the world is changing, and that people are rejecting Catholic teachings en masse. On the other hand, leaders do not see (or refuse to admit) that Catholic teachings and systemic sins are driving away 21st century people. The only way for the church to stay relevant is to jettison antediluvian doctrines and atone for its rampant child abuse, financial scandals, and sexist structure. No amount of outreach or "new language" will make the Catholic Church's homophobia, misogyny, or moral failures any less repugnant. Until church leaders grasp this simple fact, people around the world will reject Catholic teachings.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Human Rights Watch: Pride in the Name of Love

Huffington Post: Double Rainbows Show Up In Time For Ireland's Gay Marriage Vote

BBC News: Emotional posts as Ireland votes yes to same-sex marriage in referendum

Saturday, May 23, 2015

News Tidbits

BBC News: Ireland same-sex referendum set to approve gay marriage

Buzzfeed: Priests Defy Bishops To Support Marriage Equality In Ireland

Religion News Service: Australians push for Vatican cardinal to testify on abuse 

Washington Blade: Booker, Brown introduce resolution against ‘ex-gay’ therapy

Raw Story: Alabama’s chief justice: The ‘pursuit of happiness’ means following the Bible

CBC News: Jewelry store sign prompts same-sex couple to ask for refund

Fort Worth Weekly: Birdville ISD Sued Over Christian Prayer

WJAC 6: Religious leaders protest psychic and holistic expo

Commentary Tidbits

The Telegraph: Ireland has said 'yes' to gay marriage and 'no' to Catholicism

The Wartburg Watch: Christian Janeway’s Story    (Trigger warning)

Spiritual Sounding Board: Insidious Behavior at The Village Church Regarding a Pedophile and His Former Wife 

The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person: Josh Duggar says he’s sorry. So what?

The Daily Beast: How The Duggars’ Church Encourages Young Women To ‘Submit’

Slate: Duggar Revelations Are Just the Latest Sex Abuse Scandal to Rock Far-Right Fundamentalism

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mike Huckabee Defends the Duggars

As discussed in a prior post, Josh Duggar resigned from his position at Family Resource Council Action yesterday after news of his sexually predatory behavior became public. Amidst the public outrage, former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is defending the Duggar family.

In a March 22nd Facebook post, Huckabee voiced his support for the Duggars in a manner that minimize the situation. I'd like to parse Huckabee's Facebook post, in which he insisted that the abuse was in the past and blasted the "blood-thirsty" media for its attention to the scandal.

First, Huckabee described Josh Duggar's abusive behavior as "inexcusable" but not "unforgivable".
"Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn’t mean 'unforgivable.' He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities."
No, they weren't. According to In Touch Weekly, Jim Bob Duggar told police that he's learned about Josh's abusive behavior in 2002, but did not have Josh speak with Arkansas State Trooper Jim Hutchens until 2003. Before taking Josh to Hutchens, Jim Bob discussed the matter with church elders, but did not seek professional help for his son. What, if any, support was shown to Josh's victims remains unknown. The family did not deal with the abuse appropriately, and instead of truly being "honest and open about it", they kept it under wraps for years.

Next, Huckabee chided the "blood-thirsty media" for "sensationalizing" the scandal, insisting that "Good people make mistakes".
"No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one's judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility."
Mike, sexual abuse is not a "mistake"; it's a morally reprehensible act and crime. Even if Josh's judgment was immature, his behavior was evidence of a grave problem that his parents refused to take seriously. Furthermore, how do we know that Josh's predatory impulses were ever truly addressed? The Duggars followed Bill Gothard, and from what we know about Gothard's Advanced Training Institute, it's unlikely that Josh received sound advice about his behavior.

Sexual abuse is a serious matter, and the media has every right to devote attention to the scandal. When the stars of 19 Kids and Counting are implicated in a morally reprehensible scandal, of course the media should report on the matter. The scandal shattered the Duggar's carefully crafted image of a wholesome Christian family and exposed their hypocrisy in demonizing LGBTQ people as supposed predators.

Huckabee argued that the media was revictimizing Josh's victims by bringing up the abuse.
"Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims."
In a breathtaking reversal, Huckabee accused the media of victimizing Josh's victims by drawing attention to the abuse. By deflecting attention and blame onto the media, Huckabee minimized Josh Duggar's behavior.

Huckabee concludes his statement by reminding readers that no one is perfect, and that we are all sinners.
"Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support."
While no one is perfect, most people do not molest children. Most people do not utterly mishandle and obscure sexual abuse. The Josh Duggar scandal is not about imperfection, but about a serious crime against five children. Huckabee's arguments sounded suspiciously like sin-leveling, which holds all sinners as equally guilty and ignores the fact that some sins are far worse than others. His refusal to recognize the gravity of the situation floored me.

Huckabee's insensitive statement is yet another example of a religious figure minimizing abuse, deflecting focus, and failing to hold guilty parties accountable. His words boil down to the same excuses that people use when closing ranks around predators: it's in the past ... he said he was sorry .. you're a sinner too so shut up ... stop attacking this poor man! This pattern plays out in too many churches when abuse victims seek help, and now it has played out on Huckabee's Facebook page.

(Hat tip to CNN and Right Wing Watch.)

5/23/15 UPDATE: Raw Story is reporting that Huckabee's Facebook followers are blasting him for defending the Duggars. Even conservative Christians can't swallow Huckabee's defense of Josh, Jim Bob, and Michelle.

Demonstrators Protest Huckabee Speech in Cedar Falls, Iowa

On May 18th, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee spoke at the Family Leadership Summit at Cedar Falls High School in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Outside the venue, over a hundred demonstrators protested against the homophobic values of the Family Leadership Summit.

News Tidbits

TMZ: TLC Yanks 19 Kids and Counting From TV Schedule

Buzzfeed: Democratic House Freshman Aims To Ban LGBT Conversion Therapy As “Fraud”

The Advocate: Oregon’s Bisexual Gov. Bans Conversion Therapy

Reuters: Chastened Catholic Church leaders take back seat in Irish gay marriage referendum

The Guardian: Senior Vatican official offered bribe to child sex abuse victim, inquiry told

Time: Ted Cruz Courts Conservative Pastors at Private Gathering

Christian Today: Demonstrators plan Mark Driscoll protests at Sydney Hillsong Church

Washington Post: Another Christian college faces backlash for student-athlete policy on LGBT issues

Raw Story: Four of six homeschooled brothers plead guilty to molesting their sister while ‘anti-school’ parents did nothing

WNEM 5: Mother of gay son speaks out about Midland pastor who resigned following 'sin'

Gay Star News: Swiss Catholic Bishop apologizes for saying prayer can ‘cure’ gay people

Commentary Tidbits

Raw Story: ‘Boys are curious': Meet the Duggar defenders using religion to excuse fondling your sleeping sisters

Salon: Here are some high-profile Republicans who are buds with Josh Duggar, child molester

The Daily Beast: Can Scott Walker Convert the Christian Right?

Wall of Separation: Religious Right Calls For Revival As Number Of U.S. Christians Declines

Slate: Faith Healing Kills Children

Huffington Post: Eight 'Bible-Believing' Churches vs. One Progressive Church

Irish Times: Catholic Church teaching on marriage has changed down the centuries

News-com-au: Survivors tell their horror stories of ex-gay therapy treatments in Australia

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Josh Duggar Resigns from FRC After Sexual Abuse Exposé

The Duggars, stars of the TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, have long projected the image of a wholesome fundamentalist Christian family. Now, that image has been shattered by shocking reports of child sexual abuse.

On May 19th, In Touch Weekly reported that a police report named Josh Duggar as an "alleged offender" in a sexual abuse probe when Josh was still a teenager. Jim Bob Duggar, Josh's father, reportedly brought Josh into to the Arkansas State Police to report his son's abusive behavior. In Touch claims that the state trooper who took the report failed to follow up, and was later convicted on child sexual abuse image charges himself.

Today, In Touch offered even more details from a Springdale, Arkansas police report. According to the In Touch exposé, Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple acts of sexual abuse against five minors.

If the In Touch exposé is correct, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar handled their son's predatory behavior poorly. Jim Bob reportedly knew about Josh's predations as early as 2002 but failed to contact the authorities, In Touch reports. The magazine states that Josh's abusive behavior continued, and in 2003, Jim Bob met with his church's elders, who also failed to alert law enforcement. Jim Bob and the church elders reportedly agreed to send Josh to a counseling program, but Michelle later told police that Josh had merely stayed with a family friend.

According to In Touch, The Duggar family was scheduled to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006. When Harpo Studios received an e-mail about Josh's reported sexual abuse, staff faxed the letter to the Department of Human Services, leading to an investigation by police in Springdale, Arkansas. Police interviewed several of the victims in late 2006. Unfortunately, police could not pursue charges because the case's statute of limitations had expired.

The Duggar family has posted a message on Facebook regarding the scandal. Jim Bob and Michelle refer to Josh's alleged sexual abuse as "bad mistakes", but had little to say about the victims. (Hat tip to People Magazine.)
"Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything."
Josh Duggar apologized for his "wrongdoing" in the statement, claiming that he sought forgiveness from his victims.
"Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption."
Josh Duggar has since resigned from his position as executive director of Family Research Council Action. In a terse statement at the FRC website, FRC president Tony Perkins offered few details about the situation. (UPDATED)
"Yesterday, Josh Duggar made the decision to resign his position at FRC Action as a result of previously unknown information becoming public concerning events that occurred during his teenage years. Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his work here. I believe this is the best decision for Josh and his family at this time. I would ask you to join me in praying for everyone involved."
The hypocrisy of the parties involved is breathtaking. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who have a history of anti-LGBTQ activism and of demonizing LGBTQ people as predators, harbored an alleged predator in their own family. The Family Research Council, which has also fought against LGBTQ equality and cast LGBTQ people as predators, unwittingly had an alleged predator on its payroll. This scandal serves as yet another reminder that LGBTQ people aren't a threat to children; predators are.

The Josh Duggar scandal exposes the rot underneath the Duggar family's smiling, wholesome facade. Jim Bob and Michelle -- applauded by the Religious Right as the embodiment of family values -- failed to live out those values in their response to Josh's behavior. Why didn't they go to the police sooner? Why didn't they get their son professional help? Where was their concern for the victims?

The Duggars' ties to the Christian Patriarchy movement are well-known. The Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy movements promise to exalt the family, teach children virtue, and protect children from a sinful outside world. If Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, and now Josh Duggar are any indication, these ideologies do not guarantee healthy families. Instead, by celebrating male dominance, promoting unhealthy ideas about sexuality, and demanding unquestioning obedience from children, they make children even more vulnerable to abuse. Separating families from "the world" won't make children any safer, but it will make it more difficult for young abuse victims to seek help.

I regret that it took this long for the Josh Duggar case to come to light. What the Duggar family does next, whether TLC continues to air their show, and whether the victims find healing remains to be seen.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Politicus USA: Demand That TLC Cancel 19 Kids And Counting After Josh Duggar Admits To Molesting Girls

Love, Joy, Feminism: What You Need to Know about the Josh Duggar Police Report

Danthropology: Josh Duggar admits to molestation accusations and resigns from Family Research Council

Freak Out Nation: Josh Duggar: God Has Forgiven Me for Molesting Young Girls

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

News Tidbits

LGBT Weekly: LDS Church, Utah governor support anti-LGBT World Congress of Families upcoming conference

Politico: Influential evangelicals to try to rally behind one GOP candidate at meeting

Washington Post: Eyeing gay marriage case, evangelicals and Catholics rally around battling poverty

LGBTQ Nation: U.S congresswoman demands FTC investigation of ‘gay conversion therapy’ practices

Texas Observer: Texas Churches Make Infamous Anti-LGBT Hate Groups List

Huffington Post: Arizona Pastor Steven Anderson Claims Anti-Gay Businesses Are 'Destroying America' By 'Being Too Nice' To LGBT Customers

Huffington Post: People Who Are Anti-Abortion Are Also Sexist, Worrying Study Finds

Colorado Independent: Tony Perkins: Obama’s ‘weapons of sexual radicalism’ hamper Christian anti-poverty efforts

Seattle Pi: Mark Driscoll returns: Ex-Mars Hill pastor gets standing ovation at Mill Creek Church

Commentary Tidbits

Leftcheek Deuce: The Celebrities of Christian Justice and Their Abuser Dynamics

Fashion & Style: 5 Shocking Things You Didn't Know About The Duggars' Controversial Beliefs 

Flunking Sainthood: News flash! Americans like Mormons better when we’re not oppressing gays 

Human Rights Campaign: Mormon Tabernacle Choir, LDS Church and Governor Herbert Support WCF’s Hate-a-Palooza

Homeschoolers Anonymous: How Christian Homeschool Leaders Have Addressed Domestic Violence Isn’t Ok

The Advocate: We Must Protect Disabled LGBT Adults From Conversion Therapy

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ireland to Vote on Same-Sex Marriage; Irish Religious Right Out in Force

On March 22nd, the Republic of Ireland will hold a referendum on whether or not to amend its constitution to permit same-sex marriage. The historic vote will take place amidst a heated culture war between LGBTQ equality supporters and same-sex marriage opponents. Polls show that a majority of Irish respondents support a "yes" vote in favor of same-sex marriage, but opponents of same-sex marriage remain undaunted.

Irish Catholic leaders have firmly opposed an amendment to legalize same-sex marriage. For example, in a March 10th statement, the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference rejected the idea of an amendment to the Irish constitution legalizing same-sex marriage. "We cannot support an amendment to the Constitution which redefines marriage and effectively places the union of two men, or two women, on a par with the marriage relationship between a husband and wife which is open to the procreation of children," the Bishops Conference wrote. In a May 16th pastoral letter, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly worried that a same-sex marriage victory would introduce a "profound change" in how society understands parenthood and family, making it it "difficult to speak about marriage as it has been traditionally understood".

Other Irish and British Religious Right groups are raising their voices as the voting day approaches. The Guardian reports that evangelical leaders are encouraging their congregants to vote against same-sex marriage. The Irish Times reports that the Evangelical Cross Denominational Response  to the Same-Sex Marriage Referendum distributed 20,000 pamphlets to over 100 churches across Ireland. According to Newsweek and Her Magazine, the Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage (ADFAM) distributed leaflets in Dublin blasting same-sex marriage, claiming that gays are cancer-prone and that same-sex unions tend to be "very short-lived, and promiscuous".

ADFAM also held a press conference in Dublin last week to oppose same-sex marriage. Gerard van den Aardweg, a Dutch psychologist with ties to the U.S.-based National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH), spoke at the event. According to the Irish Times, van den Aardweg rejected the idea that sexual orientation is innate. "No one is born that way. Gay children do not exist, another propaganda item," he said. Dr. van den Aardweg reportedly claimed that the Nazi party was "rooted" in gays and that powerful organizations seek to impose homosexuality across the globe. (Hat tip to SPLC Hatewatch.)

Members of the so-called "ex-gay" movement had something to say about the Irish referendum. According to the Irish Journal, Mike Davidson of Core Issues Trust (a British "ex-gay" organization) was scheduled to speak at an event in early May entitled "Yes or No, a Faith Perspective on Issues Concerning Same-Sex Marriage". However, event organizer Bill Hamilton told the Irish Journal that the hotel had withdrawn use of its facilities.

Even the American Religious Right is speaking out against same-sex marriage in Ireland. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is encouraging its followers to support anti-LGBTQ activists in Ireland.
"Remember — increasingly the battle to preserve marriage is becoming a global one. While the Obama administration aggressively ties American foreign policy to advancing the gay agenda worldwide, most countries in the world strongly are opposed to redefining marriage ... If traditional marriage supporters can manage to pull off a victory in Ireland, it will be a tremendous boost to the cause of marriage worldwide. Please do what you can to bring awareness to their efforts."
I'm continually amazed at the parallels between American and international Religious Right activists. Fear-mongering, stale arguments, and an adamant refusal to abandon absurd positions characterize Religious Right voices in the U.S. and abroad. Is it because the Religious Right networks globally? Or is it because Religious Right figures live with the same fear and loathing whatever their nationality?

If polls are anything to go by, the odds are in favor of a "yes" vote on Friday. If Ireland votes in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, it will serve as a major victory for the global LGBTQ rights movement. A victory will also serve as a reminder that the Catholic Church no longer has iron-clad control over the opinions of the Irish populace. (Considering the sordid history of Catholic institutions in Ireland, this is a good thing.) In Ireland, as in America, Religious Right voices will find themselves increasingly marginalized as their country marches toward a more enlightened future.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Inquisitr: Despite U.S. Christian Group’s Interference, Ireland Likely To Pass Marriage Equality — By Vote

The Guardian: U.S. Christians ‘bankrolling’ no campaign in Ireland’s gay marriage referendum

NBC News: Ireland Same-Sex Marriage Referendum Sets Government Against Church

New York Times: Ireland’s Marriage Equality Moment

News Tidbits

Pew Research Center: America’s Changing Religious Landscape 

Deseret News: World Congress of Families heading to Salt Lake City in the fall

Washington Post: Obama tackles poverty on a panel in front of Catholic and evangelical leaders

Religion News Service: At Liberty University, Jeb Bush seeks support from evangelicals

Raw Story: Duggar family member: ‘All science’ points to creationism being true

Lincoln Times-News: No non-Christian prayers at county meetings, says Lincoln County chairman

Click Orlando: Florida church sign says homosexuals must repent or go to hell

Huffington Post: California Judge Rules Against Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Program

Gay News Network: Australian Department of Education bans Teen Sex: By the Book for anti-gay sentiments and slut shaming

Metro Weekly: 9 Anti-Gay Billboards from across the U.S.

Commentary Tidbits

The Church of the Fridge: Because I Said So: The Dangers of Unquestioning Obedience 

Stuff Fundies Like: Empathy?

Huffington Post: "Bible Believing" Pastors and the Enabling of Domestic Violence

Danthropology: Catholics blame everyone but themselves for the recent church exodus

Just One Train Wreck After Another: Biblical Femininity Is A Lie

Political Research Associates: How the Right is Co-Opting #BlackLivesMatter to Roll Back Reproductive Rights

Christian Science Monitor: Jeb Bush at Liberty University: Why presidential hopefuls court Evangelicals

The Advocate: Could New Jersey Pay Damages for Conversion Therapy Victims?

Edge Media Network: Watch Out Obama! The Ex-Gays are Coming for You (Again)

ERLC Announces Gathering as Supreme Court Reflects on Same-Sex Marriage

As a Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage draws near, supporters of LGBTQ equality and Religious Right figures are waiting eagerly for a decision. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention will hold an event this summer to discuss the decision. Equip Austin will take place in at the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas on July 29th.

Last year, a similar ERLC event not only delegitimized LGBTQ people, but largely left them out of the conversation on faith, gender, and sexuality. I don't expect Equip Austin to be different in that regard.

ERLC president Russell Moore described the conference in such a way as to demean same-sex unions, while recognizing that legalization of same-sex marriage was a real possibility.
"The Supreme Court will soon decide whether states can legally choose to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It is a watershed moment in our nation’s history. But regardless of whether our land’s highest court recognizes the unchangeable or not, we will hold steadfast. Even more, regardless of the decision, the church will have to learn to engage a culture with the gospel in which we cannot assume people share our same understanding of marriage. As we seek to equip churches for this task I’m thrilled to partner with this exceptional band of leaders at this event to think through what gospel faithfulness looks like in our ever-changing culture."
The Supreme Court recognizing "the unchangeable"? Holding "steadfast" in a culture that doesn't "share our same understanding of marriage"? If Moore's words are any indication, Equip Austin will opposed full LGBTQ equality.

However, Moore seems to accept that the world is changing, realizing that mainstream society is diverging from Southern Baptist sensibilities. This tone will come to define more Religious Right figures if LGBTQ equality continues to make strides in the U.S. While the Religious Right is pernicious, powerful, and deserving of scrutiny, its followers will slowly realize that they are losing the culture wars.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cleaning the House of Ahab

I regret that I've neglected my blog this past week in favor of gardening, yard work, and spring cleaning. While cleaning out my closets this weekend, I found tons of materials from Religious Right events I've observed for Republic of Gilead. Over the years, I accumulated boxes and bags full of audio CDs, magazines, pamphlets, books, and videos from right-wing events such as the Values Voters Summit, CPAC, CHAP conventions, and Love Won Out. Five years worth of conference materials stunned me -- I simply couldn't believe that I'd attended so many gatherings.

Most of the materials went in the trash, but I held onto the books I'd stashed away in my closets and forgotten. Now, books by Ken Ham, Sean McDowell, C. Peter Wagner, and the (now repentant) Alan Chambers occupy space on my bookshelves, waiting to be read and reviewed at Republic of Gilead.

When I infiltrate future Religious Right gatherings, I will now remember to pick up books and keep my hands off the promotional materials. They accumulate fast!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

News Tidbits

WYFF 4 News: Sexual abuse survivors hold vigil at Bob Jones University main gate Federal judge dismisses Nebraskan's suit against all homosexuals

LGBTQ Nation: California attorney general granted more time to stop ‘shoot the gays’ ballot initiative

The Advocate: Oregon to Ban 'Ex-Gay' Therapy for Minors

Washington Post: Pope Francis will send ‘missionaries of mercy’ to absolve women of abortion ‘sin’

Raw Story: Anti-abortion groups vow to ignore DC law and fire women for using birth control anyway

CNN: Rick Santorum planning May 27 presidential announcement

Huffington Post: California's Drought Is Divine 'Judgment' From God Over Support Of Gay Rights, Bill Koenig Claims

Allentown Morning Call: Bangor High School Students suspended for calling out students wearing Chick-fil-A shirts during LGBT event

Commentary Tidbits

Religion News Service: The Jihad of Pamela Geller

On Freedom: Get rich quick! How to crowdfund your intolerance in 3 easy steps

New York Times: Catholicism Undervalues Women

Secular Reality: Ignorance is Strength 

RH Reality Check: Anti-Choice Groups Vow to Defy New Provisions of D.C. Law That Don’t Exist

Center for American Progress: RFRA Repercussions

Joe.My.God: Meet Ireland's Duggar/Westboro Family

Christian Science Monitor: Why evangelical voters love Mike Huckabee so much

Human Rights Campaign: The Truth about Mike Huckabee’s Anti-LGBT Agenda, In His Own Words

Media Matters: Meet The Anti-LGBT Legal Scholars Defending "Religious Freedom" Laws

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bruce Gerencser on the National Day of Prayer

May 7th is the 2015 National Day of Prayer, an annual event devoted to praying for the nation. In his latest post, Bruce Gerencser makes some important observations about the Religious Right approach to the National Day of Prayer.
"As you can see, lots of generic theological words hide the real reason for this year’s National Day of Prayer.  There will be few prayers uttered about the wars in the Middle East, global climate change, immigration, starving children, or the homeless. Little will be said  about most of the perplexing problems facing 21st century humans. None of these things matter to most Evangelicals. What does matter is outlawing abortion, criminalizing homosexuality, and banning same-sex marriage. What does matter is re-instituting government sponsored prayer in public schools, posting the Ten Commandments on classroom walls, and teaching school children the earth is 6,019 years old. What matters most of all is taking back the United States from Kenyan-born, socialist negro Barack Obama and those who are Democrats, socialists, atheists, humanists, pagans, and liberal Christians. Theocracy remains the ultimate goal and they will not rest until the Christian flag is hoisted over the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that Sharia Biblical Christian law, is the law of the Land."
To read additional commentary on the National Day of Prayer, visit the following links.

Huffington Post: Jesus Doesn't Need a National Day of Prayer (And Neither Do We)

Washington Post: Let’s stop pretending we’re being inclusive on the National Day of Prayer

Inquisitr: National Day Of Prayer Is May 7, 2015: People Will Pray For The Nation And Its Leaders

News Tidbits

Business Insider: Christians are leaving the faith in droves and the trend isn't slowing down

New York Times: Mike Huckabee Joins Republican Presidential Race

NPR: Huckabee Hopes Evangelical Voters Are Tying Yellow Ribbons For Him Parent lobby group alleges religious education material taught in NSW schools includes “slut shaming” 

Huffington Post: More Americans Are Comfortable With A Gay Presidential Candidate Than With An Evangelical One

The Column: Minnesota ‘ex-lesbian’ falsely claims conversion therapy bans will shut down ex-gay ministries

Detroit News: Anti-gay shop owner in west Michigan defies backlash

Outsports: Hillsdale College asks gay athlete to pray for destruction of "evil" same-sex marriage

Washington Blade: Nigerian theological student expelled for ‘homosexuality’

Commentary Tidbits

The New Republic: The Last Culture Warrior

Godless in Dixie: It’s Not Just the Messengers, It’s the Message, Too 

Wall of Separation: The Decline And Fall Of Just About Everything: Carping About ‘Moral Decay’ Is An Old Game

The Guardian: The terrifying American anti-abortion movement is exporting its tactics to the UK

Human Rights Campaign: World Congress of Families Hires Notorious Anti-LGBT Activist As Director of Upcoming Salt Lake City

Slate: SCOTUS Swats Away Challenge to New Jersey’s Ex-Gay Conversion Therapy Ban

Ars Technica: Failed Christian shoe promoter makes anti-gay first-person shooter

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Christian Homeschooling Conferences That Make You Go Hmmmm...

We live in dynamic times. Our society is becoming increasingly pluralistic as people of different races, faiths, political stances, sexual orientations, and gender identities speak in the public square. Science continues to teach us more about our universe and our origins. Technology connects us to more people and more knowledge than ever before. For those who are comfortable with progress, this is an exhilarating time to be alive.

However, for a small segment of society, these developments represent a loss of privilege and power. Rather than learn how to navigate this evolving world, the Religious Right resists by clinging to a narrow, intolerant worldview and struggling against any encroachments. Some forms of Christian homeschooling are intended to pass along this worldview to the next generation in the hopes that they will continue the struggle. The result is homeschooling with a decidedly dominionist, right-wing, anti-science slant. One homeschooling event in my region features many examples of this mindset.

The Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania (CHAP) will be hosting its 29th annual homeschool convention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on May 8-9. In years past, the event has featured speakers such as creationist Ken Ham, disgraced Vision Forum president Doug Phillips, and anti-gay cake provocateur Bill Jack. Over the years, I've noticed several recurring themes at the CHAP convention, a product of the fundamentalist Christianity that infuses the event. Creationism, purity culture, stereotypical gender roles, and distrust of non-Christians and mainstream society were common topics in CHAP workshops. The 2015 CHAP convention is no exception.

The CHAP convention schedule often features creationist/anti-evolution workshops for homeschooling parents. For example, in "The Evolution of a Creationist", Jobe Martin will suggest that Christian homeschoolers are "stemming the tide" against fundamentalists' favorite boogeymen, evolution and "secular humanism".
"This talk includes many of the evidences for creation that the Lord used to bring Dr. Martin from being an agnostic, zen-Buddhist, evolutionist to a young earth creationist. Dr. Martin uses statistics and current studies to vividly demonstrate how our Christian school kids are following the same downward path into secular humanism that the public school kids are taking and that it is only the homeschoolers who are “stemming the tide,” though they are also sloping off into moderate Christianity instead of staying solidly Biblical. When belief in the Bible’s authority and accuracy is shaken, people lose their trust in it and the culture departs from Biblical principles. This talk will help equip all ages with foundational truths about creation which will enable young people to stand strong against the attacks of evolution and secular humanism in the academic arena and today’s culture."
Another workshop entitled "Incredible Creatures that Proclaim Creation" will insist that evolution is false and creationism is true.
"God’s incredible creation will wow you as Dr. Martin shares fascinating facts about many different creatures the Lord has created. He will explain how it is utterly impossible for them to evolve. He will also share how each one of these irreducibly complex and amazing creations can be used to testify and proclaim that there is a Creator God who is the Lord Jesus Christ."
Right-wing rhetoric often finds its way into CHAP workshops. In a workshop entitled "The Fall of the Roman Empire and the Courageous Story of St. Patrick", William Federer will suggest that modern society, like ancient Rome, is mired in "sexual immorality", welfare, excessive taxation, and suppression of the Christian community.
"How was the time Saint Patrick lived similar to today? The Roman Empire was falling: Illegal immigrants were overrunning boarders; Latin Language was displaced: Sexual immorality; Exposure of unwanted infants; Violent gladiatorial entertainment; Outsourcing to North Africa; Enormous debt & government; Explosion of welfare & government jobs; Taxes unbearable; the Church was discouraged to have political involvement; Military was over stretched; and Atilla the Hun committed terrorist attacks."
Dominionism finds its way into other workshops. Another William Federer workshop, "Change to Chains: The 6,000 Year Quest for Global Power", claims that without "Judeo-Christian morality", societies succumb to either anarchy or totalitarian governments (despite evidence to the contrary).
"In the nearly 6,000 years of recorded human history, POWER, like gravity, seems to inevitably concentrate into the hands of ONE individual, sometimes called pharoah, caesar, czar, kaiser, king, caliph, emperor, monarch, sultan, president or communist dictator. No matter what the autocratic leader’s particular title is, the default setting for human government throughout history has been monarchy. How rare is America’s experiment with a republic? On the spectrum of human government, one side is TOTAL GOVERNMENT with power concentrated in the hands of a totalitarian dictator, and the other side is NO GOVERNMENT - anarchy. America, out of all previous nations on earth, was able to get closest to the anarchy side of the spectrum and still maintain order because of a secret ingredient - Judeo-Christian morality."
The fundamentalist persecution complex is in full bloom in William Federer's "Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance No Longer Tolerates the Religion of Its Founders". Judging by the convention booklet's description, the "Backfired" workshop will depict Christianity as the target of discrimination and silencing in America (despite evidence to the contrary).
The faith that gave birth to tolerance is no longer tolerated! How did America go from Pilgrims seeking freedom to express their Judeo-Christian beliefs to today’s discrimination against those very beliefs in the name of tolerance? “Backfired” chronicles the history of this disturbing development now rampant in our country. Do these headlines sound familiar?
• Ten Commandments taken down
• “Under God” removed from the Pledge
• Prayer prohibited
• Nativity Scenes banned
• Salvation Army defunded
• Boy Scouts sued
• Christmas Carols stopped
• Bible called ‘hate speech’
The CHAP workshop themes should be familiar to anyone who observes the Religious Right. The usual boogeymen -- secular humanism, evolution, godless government, "persecution" of Christians -- are depicted as threats that devout Christians must resist. Homeschooled children are assigned the task of torchbearers who must "stem the tide" of a sinful society. Sadly, none of this rhetoric will help homeschooled children grow up into well-rounded adults who can successfully navigate a pluralistic society. I realize that the parents who attend these conventions love their children and mean well, they are doing them no favors by teaching them a skewed worldview.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Video: Religious Right Activists and Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Outside Supreme Court

National March for Marriage Takes Place in Washington D.C.

On April 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the Constitution requires state governments to recognize same-sex marriages. Opponents of LGBTQ equality redoubled their activist efforts in the days leading up to April 28th, alarmed at the possibility of a SCOTUS decision that would recognize same-sex marriages across the country. In a prior post, Republic of Gilead shared quotes from Religious Right leaders who spoke at a press conference at the National Press Club. In this post, I'd like to share quotes from another anti-LGBTQ event in recent days.

On April 25th, the National Organization for Marriage led the National March for Marriage from Third Street to the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C., reports the International Business Times. Scheduled speakers included NOM president Brian Brown, Josh Duggar, Sen. Ruben Diaz, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, and others. Thousands of anti-LGBTQ demonstrators proclaimed their opposition to same-sex marriage, according to the Washington Post. Think Progress shared photos of the rally participants, including attendees from NOM, Human Life International, AFTAH, and the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

Right Wing Watch shared video excerpts of speeches at the rally. Predictably, the speeches contained the same tired arguments against same-sex marriage that the Religious Right has used for years. Fear, self-righteousness, and heteronormativity pervaded speeches at the National March for Marriage

First, Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa, California, declared that the Supreme Court was "incapable" of changing God's definition of marriage. "You mess with the definition of marriage, and you burn. You're toast! You can't win that one!" he warned.

Garlow delivered a convoluted interpretation of the Hebrew words for male and female (ish and isha), claiming that they have letters that spell the beginning of the Tetragrammaton (יהוה), the Hebrew name of God. He argued that humans can only fully express the image of God when paired with a member of the opposite sex (thereby excluding same-sex couples, widows, widowers, singles, and celibate persons from the image of God). The implication, it seemed, is that humans are only complete and godly when married to a member of the opposite sex, a belief with dehumanizing implications.
"When you have male and female together, you have the imago dei, the image of God. No male by himself is an expression of the full spectrum of the image of God. No female by herself is a full expression of the full spectrum of the image of God. Nor are two men or two women. Only as a male and female come together -- yod heh, God -- the image of God is stamped upon that covenantal marriage relationship."
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, vowed to obey God's law over U.S. law in the event of a Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage. He invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in defense of his stance, oblivious to the irony of comparing his anti-equality efforts to King's pro-equality efforts.
"Supreme Court of the United States, with all due respect, we warn you, do not cross this line. And as much as I'm an attorney and I respect the rule of law, I also respect a higher law, and when an earthly law collides with the higher law, we have no choice [but] to obey the higher law. We cannot comply to Caesar's demands that are in direct conflict with the higher law, and that's what the Dr. Martin Luther King wrote in Letter from Birmingham Jail."
Fr. Johannes Jacobse, founder of the American Orthodox Institute, repeated the tired argument that opposite-sex marriage is the only valid form of marriage because it produces children. He warned the audience that national legalization of same-sex marriage would somehow lead to state control over people's lives and a withering of freedom.
"Marriage is one man and one woman because it takes one man and one woman to create a child. This is written in nature, and if we look deeply into nature, what do we discover? We discover intent, purpose, and meaning, and that meaning comes from the very mouth of God. If we do not recognize that, if that consciousness grows dim, then what we end up doing is seeing the state as the source and the arbiter of what makes human relationships morally licit. We can't do that because if you give to Caesar the things that are God's, he never gives it back! And in the end, in the end, the state will be telling you how to live, and you will lose your freedom."
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that speakers resorted to fear tactics and appeals to self-righteousness. Opposition to LGBTQ equality has no logical basis, so Religious Right leaders will appeal to emotion rather than reason. However, more Americans are realizing that equal rights for LGBTQ citizens are reasonable, and so this emotion-driven rhetoric is falling on deaf ears.

To watch additional video coverage of the National March for Marriage, click here.